Saturday, February 17, 2007

Back on The Artist’s Way 

Thanks to Preethi, I’m trying to get going again with a couple of the ideas in Julia Cameron’s The Artists Way. I realised that I really do not want to let go of what I once had going here, so on the basis that nothing’s going to change unless I change it, I figured I’d better just prise some time away from and JFDI.

The plan is that I DO NOT turn on the computer the moment I get downstairs in the morning so that it’s up and running by the time I’ve emptied the dishwasher; I DO NOT eagerly check Sitemeter and Haloscan to see who’s visited or commented; I DO NOT check Google Reader or Gmail; instead, I eat my cereals at the table instead of holding bowl in one hand and manoeuvring mouse in the other, and then take maybe 20 minutes to write my morning pages.

That was the plan. I failed miserable on day 1; slept through the alarm and had no time left. True, the computer didn’t get turned on so I suppose that was a partial success, but the lack of a negative doesn’t make a positive. Yesterday and today were better; not the full 3 pages – I’m working up to that (and my excuse is that my A4 notebook does have very closely spaced lines and I do write very small…) – nonetheless there’s no doubt I felt better for getting rid of a page’s worth of garbage out of my head and onto the paper. So it’s a slightly slow and hesitant start, but on the whole a step in the right direction.

The Artist’s date is a tougher deal to make though. Two hours a week of something creative, or inspirational, or uplifting, and just for me, is harder to fit in. Clearly weekend time is the only candidate, and the only way to do it is once more the JFDI approach. I figured a couple of hours photography would fit the bill perfectly, so it was that I set out down the road this afternoon, camera over shoulder, towards the edge of town.

Half a mile down the road, the housing estates finish and the fields begin.

I was surprised to find tractor tyre tracks marking the line of the path across the open field, where it leaves the line of trees and heads up to the bridge over the motorway. Although there’s a public right of way, in the past the farmer has ignored it, ploughed it up and planted his crops across it. And so in previous years I’ve had no compunction in trampling my way through the crops, flattening rather more than might strictly be necessary, in order to make clear what I think about his disdain for ancient rights. Maybe this year though he’s had a change of heart. Or maybe he just happened to drive his tractor that way for no particular reason. We’ll see.

We’ve had a lot of rain lately and the local soil is clay,

so my boots had grown a heavy, sticky extra outer-sole by the time I’d reached the bridge.

Just over the other side I found horses in the field; their presence seemed to bring the scene to life, and in spite of the roar of traffic from the motorway I forgot all my grumbles about recalcitrant farmers and just stood watching them for several minutes.

They watched me too,

but eventually got bored and went off to chase the wind.

I thought at first when I downloaded the photos there was nothing there really worth posting here. Taken into the light, the contrast was poor, the colours washed out, and the framing bad because I couldn’t really make out what I was seeing in the viewfinder or on the LCD. But hey, this trip was about creativity! So why not be creative with them? Nothing dramatic, just using the curves setting to alter the greyscale and heighten the contrast, and crop to better frame the result. Maybe these wouldn’t win any prizes, but I was pleased with the improvement. (Not that that says a lot for the originals!)

The sun was going down, a chill wind was getting up, and having stood still for a quarter of an hour I was getting cold. Turning back over the bridge, I wondered how I could have missed this on the way over; I could sense the waking energy about to burst forth in a mass of blossom; the photo really doesn’t do it justice.

It’s nearly spring.

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